Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Dr. Kris Berg


The number of men and women with lower extremity disability is growing (Pollock, Miller, Linnerind, Laughridge, Coleman, and Alexander, 1974). A chief cause of this growth is an increase in the number of accidents damaging the spinal column (Pollock et al., 1974). However, many individuals are also born with these types of disabilities, and one of the causes is a disease termed spina bifida. Spina bifida occurs in about 3 per 1000 live births (Batshaw & Perret, 1981). The spine of children born with this defect is bifida and may be exposed, along with nervous tissue surrounding the area, on the surface of the body (Anderson, Clarke and Spain, 1982). This area is termed meningomyelocele and the nerves are not able to grow beyond this point (Batshaw & Perret, 1981). A cyst forms on the back where the tissue protrudes; however, if the sac contains only the tissues surrounding the nerve cord (not the cord itself) then the defect usually does not cause a handicap (Anderson et al., 1982). This is called meningocele (Anderson et al., 1982). Another form of spina bifida is termed myelomeningocele. In myelomeningocele the nerves surrounding the opening are exposed or lie near the skin’s surface and the cord is abnormal (Anderson et al., 1982). A child with this form of spina bifida may need walking aids along with having disrupted bowel and bladder control (Batshaw & Perret, 1981). Another common complication of children with myelomeningocele is hydrocephalus (Batshaw & Perret, 1981). A shunt usually helps alleviate this fluid accumulation into the abnormalities are scoliosis, kyphosis, dislocated hips and limb deformities (Anderson et al., 1982). These disorders can be corrected by orthopedic surgery in the early years; however, some final corrective surgery may be done in the teens (Anderson et al., 1982).


A Thesis Presented to the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1988, Lisa L. Jacques